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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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COSMIC TREASON

R. C. SproulR.C. Sproul:

“Sin is cosmic treason. Sin is treason against a perfectly pure Sovereign. It is an act of supreme ingratitude toward the One to whom we owe everything, to the One who has given us life itself. Have you ever considered the deeper implications of the slightest sin, of the most minute peccadillo? What are we saying to our Creator when we disobey Him at the slightest point? We are saying no to the righteousness of God. We are saying, “God, Your law is not good. My judgement is better than Yours. Your authority does not apply to me. I am above and beyond Your jurisdiction. I have the right to do what I want to do, not what You command me to do.” (The Holiness of God)

IF GOD IS HOLY AT ALL . . .

R.C. SproulR. C. Sproul:

“If God is holy at all, if God has an ounce of justice in His character, indeed if God exists as God, how could He possibly be anything else but angry with us? We violate His holiness; we insult His justice; we make light of His grace. These things can hardly please Him.” (The Holiness of God, 176)

SALVATION IS OF THE LORD

Chosen by GodR. C. Sproul:

We conclude that our salvation is of the Lord. He is the One who regenerates us. Those whom he regenerates come to Christ. Without regeneration no one will ever come to Christ. With regeneration no one will ever reject him. God’s saving grace effects what he intends to effect by it. (Chosen by God)

MEETING THE REQUIREMENTS OF GOD’S HOLINESS

R.C. SproulR. C. Sproul:

God is called holy not only because of what He does, but also because of who He is. Originally the term referred more to God’s being than His action or behavior.

For us to be called saints (“holy ones”), we must have a catharsis. We must be made clean. No unclean thing can stand before the presence of a holy God. That which is unclean is profane in His eyes. For us to be holy to God, our unclean, unholy moral imperfection must be purged and our sin removed from us. That is why the absolutely necessary condition for redemption is atonement. Without atonement we would remain always and forever unclean and unholy before His penetrating gaze.

No human is holy in himself. Holiness is foreign to us. It is alien. That is why we require the righteousness of another to cover our moral nakedness. The Holy One has given us the holiness we need in the cloak of Christ’s righteousness. Therefore we pray: “God is great, God is good. And we thank Him for the food . . . that has come down from heaven for us.”

 

The mission, passion and purpose of Ligonier Ministries and Dr. R.C. Sproul is to help people grow in their knowledge of God and His holiness. For more information, please visit http://www.ligonier.org or call them at 800-435-4343. © R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved.

TRUTH

TruthR. C. Sproul:

Openness to truth where truth may be found is a long-standing virtue that worked on the assumption that there is such a thing as objective truth, to which we should be open. Students of higher education now taught one overarching virtue: to be “open.” The purpose of their education is not to make them scholars but to provide them with a moral virtue—an openness, a relativism that eschews any form of fixed objective values or truth. Its simplistic creed is that there are no absolutes.

Without objective standards of truth, we are left with feelings, impressions, and intuitions that can never be judged as either false or bad. The bottom line of such an approach is not merely ignorance and skepticism, but the ultimate dehumanization of persons. If everybody is right, then nobody is right. If every viewpoint is equally valuable, no viewpoint is valuable.

As members of the body of Christ, we face twin enemies, both of which are deadly. First, we are tempted to embrace the thought patterns of the secular world in order to be modern and relevant in our thinking. We are terrified of being perceived as being “out of it.” Continue reading

CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS

R. C. SproulR. C. Sproul:

I can’t think of anything more pleasing to Christ than the church celebrating his birthday every year. Keep in mind that the whole principle of annual festival and celebration is deeply rooted in ancient Jewish tradition. In the Old Testament, for example, there were times when God emphatically commanded the people to remember certain events with annual celebrations. While the New Testament doesn’t require that we celebrate Christmas every year, I certainly see nothing wrong with the church’s entering into this joyous time of celebrating the Incarnation, which is the dividing point of all human history. (Ligonier.org)

PREACHER

R. C. SproulR.C. Sproul:

“Your task, O preacher, is to make sure that you are faithful to the text, that you are faithful to the proclamation of that gospel, that you are faithful to set forth the whole counsel of God, and then step back and let it happen.”

 

LOVING A HOLY GOD

The Holiness of GodR. C. Sproul:

“Loving a holy God is beyond our moral power. The only kind of God we can love by our sinful nature is an unholy god, an idol made by our own hands. Unless we are born of the Spirit of God, unless God sheds His holy love in our hearts, unless He stoops in His grace to change our hearts, we will not love Him… To love a holy God requires grace, grace strong enough to pierce our hardened hearts and awaken our moribund souls.” (The Holiness of God)

The Logos

R. C. SproulR. C. Sproul:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1-2)

“John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, `He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.'” (John 1:15)

In Greek philosophy, the logos remains an impersonal force, a lifeless and abstract philosophical concept that is a necessary postulate for the cause of order and purpose in the universe. In Hebrew thought, the Logos is personal. He indeed has the power of unity, coherence, and purpose, but the distinctive point is that the biblical Logos is a He, not an it. All attempts to translate the word Logos have suffered from some degree of inadequacy. No English word is able to capture the fullness of John’s Logos when he declared that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Attempts have been made by philosophers to translate Logos as logic, act, or deed—all of which are inadequate definitions.

God’s Logos does include action. The Logos is the eternal Word in action. But it is no irrational action or sheer expression of feeling. It is the divine Actor, acting in creation and redemption in a coherent way, who is announced in John’s Gospel. That the Word became flesh and dwelt among us is the startling conclusion of John 1. The cosmic Christ enters our humanity. It is the supreme moment of visitation of the eternal with the temporal, the infinite with the finite, and the unconditioned with the conditioned. God became flesh to accomplish your redemption. 

The mission, passion and purpose of Ligonier Ministries and Dr. R.C. Sproul is to help people grow in their knowledge of God and His holiness. For more information, please visit http://www.ligonier.org or call them at 800-435-4343. © R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved.

 

Finding God

R. C. SproulR.C. Sproul:

We have all heard evangelists quote from Revelation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). Usually the evangelist applies this text as an appeal to the unconverted, saying: “Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart. If you open the door, then He will come in.” In the original saying, however, Jesus directed His remarks to the church. It was not an evangelistic appeal.

So what? The point is that seeking is something that unbelievers do not do on their own. The unbeliever will not seek. The unbeliever will not knock. Seeking is the business of believers. Jonathan Edwards said, “The seeking of the Kingdom of God is the chief business of the Christian life.” Seeking is the result of faith, not the cause of it. Continue reading

Respecting God’s Judgment

R.C. SproulR.C. Sproul:

One of the most poignant episodes of the judgment of God occurred in the Old Testament case of Eli. Eli was a judge and priest over Israel. He was, for the most part, a godly man. But his sons were wicked and profaned the house of God. Eli rebuked them but did not fully restrain them. God revealed to Samuel that He would judge the house of Eli:

“Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. In that day I will perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them.” (1 Sam. 3:11-13)

When Eli persisted in asking Samuel what God had said, Samuel finally told him. When Eli heard the words, he said: “It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him” (v. 18).

What seemed good to God was to punish the house of Eli. Eli recognized the Word of God when he heard it because he understood the character of Him whose word it was. A God before whom we need to have no fear is not God but an idol made by our own hands.

Eli said: “It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him.” Can you make this affirmation from the depths of your heart in difficult times as well as good times?

The mission, passion and purpose of Ligonier Ministries and Dr. R.C. Sproul is to help people grow in their knowledge of God and His holiness. For more information, please visit www.ligonier.org or call them at 800-435-4343.
© R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved.

Biblical Giants

R.C. SproulR.C. Sproul:

God has given great men and women to the church. The biblical giants serve as valuable models—despite their imperfections. Were we to elevate Paul, Abraham, or David above Christ, we would be guilty of idolatry. The same would be true if we exalted Martin Luther, John Calvin, Thomas Aquinas, and others above Christ. We respect these saints, but only insofar as they are faithful to Christ and point beyond themselves to Christ. This was certainly the style of the apostle Paul, who labored tirelessly for the cause of Christ. We love and honor him for that labor. Likewise, we honor the giants of church history. But even the theological “giants” are sub-apostolic, never speaking or writing with an authority equal to an apostle.

At the same time, we recognize that a vast gulf separates Augustine from Jim Jones. People like Augustine and Luther have contributed theological insights of such magnitude that their names are representative of key thoughts. Few in church history are worthy of such recognition. The suffixes “ian,” “ist,” or “ite,” (e.g., “Calvinist”) are valuable to identify truth but have little positive and much negative value when applied to personalities. We know that Augustine, Luther, and Calvin were not crucified for us.

Thank God for role models who have influenced your life; then thank Him for the Supreme Model who died for you.

Read more by R.C. Sproul here. . . .

Return to the Dark Ages

R. C. SproulHear the word of the LORD, O children of Israel, for the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land; (Hosea 4:1 ESV)

R. C. Sproul:

Charles Colson speaks of a modern “return to the Dark Ages.” When I think of the original Dark Ages, I think of a period when culture was in decline and the progress of knowledge was static.

But today we read of the problem of the explosion of knowledge. It is a time when information and communications are big business. We hear the cry from the universities that knowledge in every field of investigation is increasing so rapidly that no one can assimilate it, even in the most narrow of specialties. The age of the “expert” is over. The word expert must now be defined in relative terms.

If knowledge is light and the light is exploding in magnitude, how can we speak of a new Dark Ages? The darkness is in the heart. It is a darkness produced by a shroud covering the face of God.

Thirty years ago, I read a book written by the Jewish philosopher and theologian Martin Buber. Buber’s book had an ominous title: The Eclipse of God. That is the eclipse of our age. A shadow has passed over the glory of God. We are a people who will not have God in our thinking. We have returned to Plato’s cave, in which we prefer the dancing shadows on the wall of ungrounded opinion over the light of truth. (Visit R. C. Sproul’s web page here. . . .)

The Great Division

R.C. Sproul“I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished! Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. For from now on five in one house will be divided; three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:49-53)

R.C. Sproul:

In Luke 12:49-57 Jesus told His disciples that He had not come to bring peace, but division. He told them that He was bringing a baptism of fire to the earth, warning the crowd to flee the wrath to come.

This was the great moment of crisis in history. It was a time of urgency that swept the earth with the appearance of Jesus. Jesus’ coming to this planet in the fullness of time was a time of division, judgment, and separation.

It was a time of personal choosing, when eternal destinies were at stake. Everyone who encountered Jesus had to make a choice, to stand with Him or against Him. Thus, since the time of Jesus’ first appearance, the world has been gripped in a kind of crisis that will continue until the last great crisis, the last judgment.

How do men encounter Jesus today, thus facing their own crisis of history? Jesus is in heaven, but men and women encounter Him through His people, the church. The church is His body and His herald. The fiery baptism Jesus came to bring fell in one sense at Pentecost to ignite the tongues of His people so that they might bring the crisis of decision to all men.

Knowing these things should make us urgent in our proclamation of His name and make us insistent that the generation of our day be exposed to the Lord of lords.

(www.ligonier.org or call them at 800-435-4343, © R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved)

Longing for God’s Law

R.C. SproulR. C. Sproul:

A survey by George Gallup Jr. revealed a startling trend in our culture. According to Gallup, the evidence seems to indicate that there are no clear behavioral patterns that distinguish Christians from non-Christians in our society. We all seem to be marching to the same drummer, looking to the shifting standards of contemporary culture for the basis of what is acceptable conduct. What everybody else is doing seems to be our only ethical norm.

This pattern can emerge only in a society or a church wherein the law of God is eclipsed. The very word law seems to have an unpleasant ring to it in our evangelical circles.

Let’s try an experiment. Read the passages from Psalm 119 that accompanies this devotion. Try to crawl into the skin of the writer and experience empathy. Try to feel what he felt when he wrote these lines thousands of years ago.

Does this sound like a modern Christian? Do we hear people talk about longing passionately for the law of God? Do we hear our friends expressing joy and delight in God’s commandments?

Psalm 119:97: “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.”

Psalm 119:11–12: “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You! Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your statutes!”

Psalm 119:131: “I opened my mouth and panted, for I longed for Your commandments.”

Read more articles at Ligonier Ministries. . . .

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